R is for Raisonneur

No I haven’t slipped a french word in my english A to Z. (I have plenty of opportunity on my french blog to do so.)

What is a raisonneur? It’s a person in a play or a  book embodying author’s viewpoint. Isn’t it interesting? That kind of role was encountered most frequently in European plays of the 17th and 18th centuries.

(…) [It’s] a type of narrator, but one who always remains in the action. Although participating in the action, the  has little direct effect on it, thus, furnishing this character with objectivity and, usually, credibility. The raisonneuraisonneurr is often a doubter, wishing to offer sound advice or to convince through reasoning. The character of Cleante in Tartuffe is a classic example of a raisonneur. As Orgon’s brother-in-law, he remains plausibly within the action, but his liberal point of view permits him to sermonize while continuing to maintain his place in the story.
(…) Despite an inclination to moralize, raisonneur (…) are most valuable when they are understood as part of the world of the play and not just sermonizers. For example, as a character Cleante expresses indignation when Orgon treats his religious scepticism as the ranting of an atheist.
(…) The words of a raisonneur are best understood as expressions of their own beliefs, not merely stuck on to explain the meaning of the play. – By James Thomas – Script Analysis for Actors, Directors, and Designers

When I write, I try most of the time to exclude my own opinions of a situation. Of course it can always pierce through in some characters, but most of the times my opinions are expressed by the emotions I try to trigger into the reader’s mind (heart?). I want them to feel anger in the face of injustice, for example.

So I wonder, who is the raisonneur in my stories. Or do I include such a thing.

One of my readers told me once after he read my book (the one I published in french) that he didn’t agree with my religious beliefs. I laughed. In that book I created a religion where there is supernatural occurring; the characters have visions of dead people warning them, etc. I didn’t argue about my religious beliefs, but it got me thinking about how much of my own beliefs or opinions I put into my stories.

There must be a lot… And at the same time I stand for the right to create characters that portray beliefs or opinions that are not my own. I remember in the 60’s 70’s and 80’s when viewers of television shows thought that, what was happening  was real. We associated the character to the actor so much that we didn’t make the difference between the two. Sometimes questions asked to writers are close to the same.

When I get silly question like if what happened to the character is autobiographical I answer with that question: “Do you really think that the author who created Hannibal Lecter, really eats human flesh?”

I might create a raisonneur for my own life… 😛

With great respect!

A.